Rats (2016) - Morgan Spurlock
From New York City, to the Kandal Province, Cambodia.Morgan Spurlock's latest documentary, Rats, plays more like a horror film than a standard documentary, presenting an in-depth look at the rodents impact all around the world. Shot, edited, and scored like a Horror film, Spurlock's film details the startling abundance of these rodents, detailing the dangers they present to mankind in the form of disease while simultaneously exhibiting the increasingly difficult means it takes to kill them, due to their intelligence and abilities to develop resistances to modern chemicals designed to subdue them. Spurlock's approach is one-dimensional but effective, pulling out every stylistic horror trope in the book, from slow motion photography to jump scares, doing everything in his power to elevate the horror presented to the audience. One great example of this is profile of a New York exterminator, a man who details the true nature of these pesky rodents. Puffing on a stogie in a dimly lit basement, this grizzled man is a visual representation of toughness and masculinity, which makes his respect for these rodents all the more frightening as he reveals his rather grim perspective about the intelligence of these creatures and the respect he has for their ability to survive and multiple. While Spurlock's horror approach is forceful, even becoming a tad sillly at times, Rats is a very entertaining experience because of its creativity in design, being a film that is never outright scary but certainly not for the squeamish. The sequence taking place in New Orleans was particularly hard to experience, which finds a group of researchers performing autopsy's on rats in order to track the advancement of disease in the area. The grotesque nature of this sequence left me more uncomfortable than most horror films, with the scientists one-by-one slicing upon these grotesque rodents, recovering various parasites and potential diseases that these animals carry inside them. Spanning the globe, Rats also details how different cultures adapt and/or view the overabundance of rats differently, from Vietnam where they have become a means of food for consumption, to parts of India which view them as family, recognizing these rodents as just another part of reincarnation. These particularly segments subvert Spurlock's overall horror atmosphere, but they also serve a reminder that Rats is a documentary first, a film that wishes to present an objective study of the rat infestations around the world. Featuring one of the better horror scores of the year, Morgan Spurlock's Rats is a clever documentary about the massive rat infestations in major cities throughout the world, detailing not only the resilience of these rodents, but also the way different cultures deal with this continuous infestation.
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